University of Pittsburgh

Chancellor Expresses Thanks and Adds December 23 to Recess

To: Members of the University Community
From: Mark A. Nordenberg
Date: December 16, 2013
Re:Happy Holidays!

The year that we are about to close was another memorable period for the University of Pittsburgh. Even as we moved toward the conclusion of our year-long celebration of the 225th anniversary of Pitt's founding, we continued to build institutional momentum, consistent with our shared desire to ensure that our chapter in this University's long and proud history would come to be regarded as one of its best. The recent record of accomplishment and impact that we have built together includes many forms of progress. Let me share some key examples.

  • Most obvious, perhaps, is the fact that we surpassed our $2 billion fundraising campaign goal, with a final total of $2.135 billion being invested in the people and programs of Pitt by more than 188,000 generous donors. In the six months since the campaign formally closed, the responses to our ongoing development efforts have remained strong, and our endowment passed the $3 billion mark. That milestone reflects both our fundraising successes and our good investment results.

  • Maintaining what has become a long and unbroken record, this fall's freshman class at the Pittsburgh campus once again was the strongest in our history and was drawn from our largest applicant pool ever. To provide some context for that statement, we received 7,825 applications for the fall of 1995, 24,871 applications for the fall of 2012, and 27,634 applications for the fall of 2013. Put another way, this fall's applicant pool was 253% larger than the pool for 1995 and 11% larger than the pool for 2012, which had been our record-setting year. That good news continues to get even better, with applications for next fall's entering class running significantly ahead of last year's. The biggest reason for this dramatic growth in attractiveness was captured earlier this month when, for the ninth year in a row, Kiplinger's ranked Pitt the best value among all of the public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

  • We maintained our 'top five' position among all American universities in terms of the total federal science and engineering research and development support annually attracted by members of our faculty. A new study released by National Taiwan University this fall ranked Pitt twelfth among all world universities in terms of research productivity, impact and excellence, and The Scientist magazine ranked Pitt one of the top four academic settings in which to work in the United States.

  • Throughout the fall term the members of our faculty – who are principally responsible for advancing our educational and research missions – continued to receive the very highest forms of recognition of their work. Recent examples include the election of Prof. Yoel Sadovsky, Director of the Magee-Women's Research Institute, to the Institute of Medicine; the election of Prof. James Bogen, from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and Prof. Jeff Brodsky, from the Department of Biological Sciences, to the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and the selection of Prof. David Bartholomae, from the Department of English, as Pennsylvania's Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

This list could easily be longer. Hopefully, though, the basic point that I regularly make already has been effectively reinforced. Despite the challenges that we face, Pitt does continue to make great progress – thanks to the talent, commitment and good, old-fashioned hard work that has come to characterize our University.

When I took what was intended to be a quick look at our December calendar last week, I saw that the University is scheduled to be open on Monday, December 23. That is, employees are scheduled to return from this coming weekend to work on Monday of next week, before moving into the December recess break the following day. My initial reaction was that a one-day work-week probably did not make much sense in terms of the cost-effective operation of the institution. Since then, I have conferred with our facilities and human resources professionals, as well as with the members of our senior management team. They all concurred in that judgment and did so with a measure of enthusiasm.

Therefore, as one tangible expression of appreciation for all of the hard work that University employees already will have done from the beginning of the calendar year through this week and also to reflect the realities of efficient institutional operation, I have decided that the University will be officially closed on Monday, December 23. Of course, as is the case on any day, essential functions must be maintained and certain people will be required to report to work. Each responsibility center will need to determine which of its personnel will be required to work that day, and employees covered by collective bargaining agreements will be governed by the terms of those agreements.

In providing this update, I do extend my heartfelt thanks for all that each of you has done to make Pitt a better place. I hope that this extra day of recess aids in your holiday preparations and adds to the time that you can spend in the good company of family and friends. I also do send my very best wishes for the remainder of the holiday season and look forward to working with you as we move into the new year together.